We can’t guarantee that every single stretch mark cream on the market is safe, but in general, if you found that stretch mark product on an OTC drugstore shelf, it’s probably just fine to use. “For the most part people making stretch mark creams are thinking of safety for pregnant women,” says Laura Riley, MD, ob-gyn, director of Labor and Delivery at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of You & Your Baby: Pregnancy. If you have any question about a specific product, bring it to your OB to okay before you use it.
You definitely want to stay away from products with Retin-A and other topical retinoids (which are prescription creams), as well as laser skin treatments right now, says Glenn Kolansky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey. “But those treatments can be effective for some women after pregnancy,” he says.
As for your OTC creams, while they’re likely safe, we hate to say it but they probably won’t actually prevent stretch marks. “A lot of products make claims,” says Kolansky. “But the bottom line is that whether or not you get stretch marks really has to do with genetic predisposition.” (Does your mom have stretch marks? That means you may be more likely to get them.) “The things that might help prevent stretch marks are eating well, not gaining more than the recommended amount of weight, exercising and keeping the skin moist,” says Kolansky. So rub on that cream, but make sure you’re making healthy lifestyle choices too.
Read more about what causes stretch marks, and their prevention and treatment.
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